Ashgate Primary School: ‘Every Child a Rider’
Cycling in the Ashgate Primary School Curriculum - meeting the needs of the community
‘Every Child a Rider’ is a unique and bespoke initiative set up by staff at Ashgate Primary School, that embeds cycling as part of our Physical Education programme and offers an alternative to more traditional sporting activities such as football and netball. It was established as a result of the recognition that a high number of pupils at Ashgate, particularly in Key Stage 2, had no access to cycles or cycling skills and therefore were not accessing the extensive cycle network available in the local community.
Whilst at Ashgate Primary, every child is given a progressive learning opportunity to develop and improve their cycling skills, regardless of experience, with the primary objective that by the time they leave the school they are a proficient and safer rider. Core to this is ensuring that children receive high quality tuition, opportunities to apply skills and are given the chance to be physically active and independent.
We recognise that not all families have access to the skills or facilities to promote safe cycling and we aim to fill this gap. For many, this may be the only opportunity they have to be exposed to the benefits, joy and skills associated to cycling.
What does cycling offer?
Cycling is more than a sport or physical activity; it is a gateway to liberation, self applied risk assessment and a healthy attitude. It is, for many, the first step into sustained physical activity and an early opportunity to be independent. The ability to ride not only develops core stability, coordination, and stamina but also affords a sense of freedom, self-control and responsibility. These are often the unseen benefits to early childhood cycling.
Health paybacks, perpetuated by increased physical activity, are well documented, including reducing the risks of cardio vascular and pulmonary diseases in later life, decreased levels of obesity and improving mental health outcomes.
Why a focus on cycling as opposed to other sports?
Not all children enjoy team sports. For most children, ‘sporting activities’ provide opportunity to increase levels of physical activity, but the competitive nature of many sports can be off putting for some; cycling for leisure however removes this barrier and acts as a non threatening physical engagement. With ever increasing numbers of cyclists in the UK, it is important that the life skills associated with the activity are practiced and rehearsed for the safety of all road users.
So what's different; is this not just the old cycling proficiency?
Ashgate Primary School delivers a bespoke ‘Every Child a Rider’ programme to ensure that children have the opportunity and skills to ride safely. This programme works beyond the traditional ‘cycling proficiency’ activities experienced by many adults and is unique to the school. We aim to engage children in riding regularly from as early as 4 years of age through to 11 years, using training activities that include the use of balance bikes, single speed cycles and fully geared, road capable cycles.
Every year group will have skill tuition each year according to their needs and experience.
Isn't this a drain on the school budget?
The school has utilized the School Sports Funding initiative to engage with cycle specialists and staff from ‘Cycle Derby’, and ‘Cycle Touring Charity’ to provide a sustained programme of study. Key to the success of the programme is that the school has the skills and capacity from ‘within’ to work alongside and beyond traditional provision. With this in mind the school has 4 staff members qualified as CTC ‘Road Cycle Managers’, enabling those capable to apply the skills they have learnt beyond the school grounds. This includes organized trips in and around the extensive Derby City Cycle Network.
In order to remove economic barriers that can often limit cycling, the school has purchased a fleet of its own cycles so that those who do not have access to cycles at home are not denied access to the training or other opportunities on offer. Government led School Sports Grants have been used to this aim. CycloMonster Derby, a local retailer, are working in collaboration with the school to source cycles and facilitate a programme of safety checks and cycle maintenance. CycloMonster have also agreed to provide sponsorship of interschool competitions, and a school ‘Cycle Team’. The school recognizes the importance of working alongside local businesses and supporting employment within the city.
What if my child can already ride?
As well as ensuring the pupils are provided with opportunities to develop basic skills, we recognize that the sport of cycling enables children to excel beyond the school. Wider opportunities are offered to pupils in the form of track cycling training at Derby Arena (Velodrome), cyclo cross training and grass track competitions. The purpose of ‘Every Child a Rider’ is not to identify those gifted and talented in cycling, but it can give them the opportunity to be so.